Thursday, October 31, 2013

Early Ratings For 2013 World Series Very Weak

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it...

We know that no one noticed when the Giants won their recent titles. Same goes for this year's contest:

By any measure, the 2013 World Series should be a big television draw. The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are historic franchises with terrific national followings, and they're attractive teams with great pitching and plenty of interesting storylines.

So why is this Fall Classic getting a relative ho-hum reaction from baseball fans, who are delivering another series of mediocre overnight TV ratings and appear to be spending more time at the water cooler actually drinking water than talking baseball?

This is not a new phenomenon. National TV viewership of the World Series took a dramatic fall in 2005 and reached an all-time low last October. The ratings have edged up some over the first five games this year, helped by a couple of crazy finishes over the weekend, but this Series still is on pace to post the third-worst average audience since Major League Baseball's postseason moved to prime time.

There are a number of variables you have to consider if you're trying to make sense of that. The baseball postseason now competes with pro football three nights a week instead of one. The NFL kicked off Sunday Night Football on NBC in 2006 and recently expanded its Thursday Night Football schedule to 13 weeks, which, along with an expanded prime-time college schedule, has to explain some fragmentation of the sports viewership.

MLB magnified that with the decision to go to a one-weekend World Series format in 2007, starting on a Wednesday (instead of a Saturday) and putting Game 5 in direct competition with Monday Night Football.

Of course, ratings are also driven by the size of the TV markets that take baseball's biggest stage, but that appears to be only a factor in the modest variability of the recent numbers. The proof of that may be found in the last World Series before the big 2005 ratings drop-off, which matched up the same two teams vying for the world championship this year and which drew nearly twice the average number of viewers per game.

Maybe it's that no one cares about the Red Sox and Cardinals. Chew on that, Mr. Selig.

Congratulations, Boston Red Sox

And THAT'S what you get for breaking our guy's ribs, St. Louis.

Congratulations Boston, as we know you've been through some difficult times in 2013.

Now shave those damn beards.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: World Series Game 6: Clinching Team vs. Underdog, 4.30p

Michael Wacha (1-0. 3.00). vs. John Lackey (0-1, 3.68).

I still want both teams to lose. But maybe this torture can end tonight.

The Other Broadcaster Shoe Drops

Earlier this month, Steve Lyons announced he will not be returning to the Dodgers next year, and now it's Eric Collins' turn.

I don't think it's right to celebrate a guy losing his job, but it's safe to say most are going to be OK with this move. Collins' brand of bland commentary never once felt "right" over Dodger games.

So long, Eric. Best of luck to you. Thanks for being a good sport about The Collins Curse.

List of Dodger Players Named Winners of 2013 Gold Glove Awards


Here are the non-Dodger winners:

POSAL winnerNL winner
CSalvador Perez, KCYadier Molina, STL
1BEric Hosmer, KCPaul Goldschmidt, ARI
2BDustin Pedroia, BOSBrandon Phillips, CIN
SSJ.J. Hardy, BALAndrelton Simmons, ATL
3BManny Machado, BALNolan Arenado, COL
LFAlex Gordon, KCCarlos Gonzalez, COL
CFAdam Jones, BALCarlos Gomez, MIL
RFShane Victorino, BOSGerardo Parra, ARI
PR.A. Dickey, TORAdam Wainwright, STL

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brilliant Column on The Cardinal Way vs. Red Sox Nation

Pitchers & Poets is back (at The Classical)! And Eric Nusbaum has written another insightful piece, one that puts baseball worship in its place. Not even going to quote from it because you should read the whole thing:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: World Series Game 5: Massachusetts @ Missouri, 5p


Adam Wainwright (0-1, 5.40) vs. John Lester (1-0, 0.00)

Is this really still going on?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: World Series Game 4: Red-Themed Team vs. Red-Themed Team, 5p

Obstruction? Or a choke job?

Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97).

The Cardinals won last night's game with the most curious of walk-offs: an obstruction, caused by Will Middlebrooks on Allen Craig at third base. The call was controversial at first because it appeared that Middlebrooks, prone at third base, might have deliberately lifted his legs to impede Craig's progress; however, the obstruction rule has nothing to do with intent, so count the run anyway once Craig tripped over the Red Sox 3B.

And let's be serious: Jarrod Saltalamacchia never should have tried that throw to get Craig at third base in the first place. If he doesn't throw the ball wide of third, 0-for-4 Pete Kozma comes up for the final out. And if Woody had gone to the police, this would never have happened. (We could also point the finger at other questionable managerial missteps in the game.)

So today's game becomes either a continuation of what is being stretched as a "Gibson-like moment", or just another obstacle for the Red Sox Machine to overcome on their unstoppable path. Either way, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will be there to call it. So my television will be on mute.

(Dodgers') Rising Tide Lifts All (MLB) Boats

Bloomberg projected values for all 30 MLB teams, and not only was there a 35% increase in average value from prior year, but much of that was led by the recent sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which reset team values league-wide:

Major League Baseball is catching up to valuations of the National Football League,” Anthony Di Santi, the managing director of the sports finance advisory division of New York-based Citigroup Inc.’s private bank, said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit on Sept. 10. “It’s because they’ve been exploiting the media opportunities that are available to them on a national level.”

He said regional sports networks also play a role when valuing teams. The Dodgers were sold in April 2012 for $2.15 billion to an affiliate of Guggenheim Partners LLC, a New York-based investment management firm with more than $190 billion in assets under management. Di Santi said the transaction price was influenced by the potential creation of a new cable TV network, and increased franchise values across MLB.

Ten teams are worth more than $1 billion. The Boston Red Sox and New York Mets each are valued at more than $2 billion, the data shows. [...]

The Dodgers’ $2.1 billion valuation is based on information provided by two individuals involved with the transaction who asked not to be identified because the details were private.

Guggenheim Baseball Management LP, a Los Angeles-based company led by financier Mark Walter, paid $2 billion for the team and Dodger Stadium, plus $150 million to form a real estate joint venture with Frank McCourt, the team’s previous owner. In exchange, McCourt transferred ownership of the 261 acres that surround the ballpark, most of which are parking lots, to the partnership.

The Guggenheim group includes basketball hall of famer Magic Johnson, who won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

McCourt, who bought the Dodgers in January 2004, agreed to sell the franchise as part of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court settlement with MLB. He retains an option to buy back Guggenheim’s share of the land for its initial investment plus inflation, according to one of the people, contingent on construction of another sports stadium on the site.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a June 2012 memorandum to professional football team owners that the league is considering sites in Los Angeles for a new stadium. Guggenheim will receive its $150 million investment back if the land is sold for any non-sports use.

Since the sale, the Dodgers’ annual revenue has risen by 38 percent to $450 million, according to a person with knowledge of team finances. Attendance also has gone up by 13 percent to about 3.7 million fans this season, the most in baseball, according to MLB.

During negotiations, McCourt’s representatives proposed starting a new regional sports network, which they referred to in presentations as YES West, that the new owners could create because the team’s deal with Fox was set to expire.

Guggenheim transformed YES West into SportsNet LA. The Dodgers will retain full ownership of the network through a subsidiary, American Media Productions LLC. Time Warner Cable Inc. has a 25-year agreement that allows the company to keep any profit made above guaranteed payments to Guggenheim, which will receive $200 million a year, after network costs and revenue sharing obligations to MLB.

The first payment from Time Warner is scheduled for January, and they would continue until 2038, stopping only in the event of a baseball labor dispute, according to the terms of the agreement.

Guggenheim believes the network is worth $2.75 billion, a discounted value of the guaranteed payments, one of the people said. SportsNet LA is scheduled to debut next spring. MLB has yet to approve the deal.

“That process is at a point where it’s pretty clear there will be approval of the Dodgers’ arrangement well before the 2014 season starts,” baseball’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said during an Oct. 15 interview at his office in New York.

There's also a cool interactive infographic which dissects how they came up with the value by team. For the Dodgers, total franchise value is $2.1B (2nd), with $1.84B of that from the team value (2nd) and $153M from related businesses (1st). Other ingredients to the team valuation break down as follows:

  • team revenues are $325M (3rd),
  • gate receipts $81M (10th),
  • concessions $29M (4th),
  • sponsorship $39M (4th),
  • media rights $100M (5th),
  • parking $10M (1st),
  • 2013 attendance 3.7M (1st).

One figures that with media rights set to skyrocket, there's a lot more value that can be unlocked with the Dodgers. Another interesting fact is that we lead the majors in parking revenue, but at a $10M revenue benefit it really is an insignificant figure relative to other team income streams--making Frank McCourt seem pretty short-sighted in his tenure's move to raise rates from $10 to $15 (a move which has since been rescinded by the Guggenheim Group).

Looking forward to us widening the gap between us and the third-most valuable MLB franchise, the Red Sox ($2.060B). (The Giants are 6th, with a $1.23B value.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: World Series Game 3: Beards @ Shards, 4:30p

Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69)

The next installment in the Bitter Party makes for an interesting story line. Wait, there's really only one story line:

Now is your time to avenge the Joe Kelly pitch to HanRam's ribs, Red Sox. Do it. We'll owe you one and we certainly have your back against the hated Shards.

David Ortiz checks in at first base while Mike Napoli sits based on the NL rules. Pivotal game, and it should be a great one. Sam Adams up, everyone!

This will also serve as your comments thread for UCLA at Oregon, Stanford at Oregon State, and South Carolina at Missouri Game Thread. However, no comments re: Furman vs. LSU are welcome here.

ps- Sorry for the anti-Cards vibe around here, @DiamondFischer! We still love you.

Giants Under Investigation For Federal Wage Law Violations

While the Giants throw insane amounts of cash at washed-up starters, they are simultaneously under investigation for unfair labor practices--specifically not paying interns--possibly in order to fund those spending sprees:

Two Major League Baseball clubs–the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins—are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible federal wage law violations. The investigations come amid wider concern about questionable pay practices throughout professional baseball, according to interviews and records obtained by FairWarning under the Freedom of Information Act.

Labor Department spokesman Jason Surbey confirmed the investigations of the Marlins and Giants, but would not give details. However, emails reviewed by FairWarning show that possible improper use of unpaid interns is a focus of the Giants probe. It is the Labor Department’s second recent investigation of the Giants over pay practices involving lower level employees. [...]

Officials with the department’s Wage and Hour Division announced in August that the Giants had resolved the prior case by agreeing to pay $544,715 in back wages and damages to 74 employees. Many were clubhouse workers the agency said were paid at a daily rate of $55, but who sometimes worked so many hours that they got less than minimum wage and no overtime. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

In announcing the settlement, Susana Blanco, director of the San Francisco district office of the Wage and Hour Division, said she was “encouraged that the Giants acted to resolve this issue,” but disappointed ”to learn that clubhouse workers providing services to high-paid sports stars weren’t making enough to meet the basic requirements of minimum-wage law.”

The Giants were also found to have improperly classified some workers as exempt from overtime pay, including clubhouse managers and video operators at both the parent team and its minor league affiliates.

The Giants in June also reached a $500,000 settlement in a private class action suit on behalf of security guards, who had claimed they were owed back pay for overtime and for working through breaks and meals.

As if getting shit on by seagulls wasn't enough of a workplace violation; not getting paid while getting shit on sounds doubly bad. Good times for Giants employees!

Mattingly Security Might Cost Dodgers Wallach

Now that the Dodgers have chosen to go with Don Mattingly as the coach for 2014, everything should be settled, right? Well, except for the fact that it may have come at the cost of 3B Coach Tim Wallach:

Los Angeles Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach interviewed for the Detroit Tigers' managerial job Friday, Wallach confirmed to

"It would be a great opportunity with a very good team," he said.

Wallach has been one of the leading managerial candidates for the past few seasons. He was the runner-up to John Farrell last winter for the Boston Red Sox job.

Look, we always knew that Wallach was a desirable managerial candidate. I liked him as a third base coach, however, despite that horrible call to send Mark Ellis home in the 10th inning of NLCS Game 1. Watching Glenn Hoffman hold back 20+ runs each year at third base anesthetized me from that pain.

Bringing back Donnie might be fine, but it would be a pity if we lost Wallach as a result.

photo: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Friday, October 25, 2013

One More Look Back at 2013

Mr. Scully, the floor is yours...

They played a version of this at the last regular season game I went to, but it's cool to see the postseason stuff in there too. And Vin's right, we were two wins and one rib away from the World Series. No reason we can't do better next year.

Pete Holmes: Not A Gambit Fan

From the upcoming Pete Holmes show, via Kotaku, this is pretty funny.

Bill James: Not A Yasiel Puig or Amanda Bynes Fan

Found this tidbit in the October 14, 2013 issue of ESPN the Magazine (the Bay Area issue), in which Peter Keating looks at the small sample size around Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson, alluding to Yasiel Puig and Bill James along the way (link insider only; emphasis mine):

The thing is, hits and runs allowed, WPA, wins, losses -- they all look backward. To zero in on a player's future, we should consider stats that measure true-outcome skills and aren't affected by batted balls. And since 2011, [Jim] Johnson's core performance has been amazingly consistent. He's had a strikeout-to-walk ratio around 2.75-1; an xFIP (Expected Fielding-Independent Pitching) around 3.50; and SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) around 3.15, all with little variation. He's not as good as he seemed last year, but he's not nearly as bad as he appeared this season.

Now, we need to handle these predictive metrics with care. Analysts who toss aside all backward-looking stats run the risk of interpreting actual results out of existence. Here, for instance, is Bill James on a player having a very different type of streak than Johnson's: "A portion of the public is for some reason disproportionately enchanted by [Yasiel] Puig's piddly-ass little hot streak, in the same way many of us are proportionately interested in the Zimmerman trial and/or Amanda Byrnes [sic], whoever she is … We choose random things to get all worked up about, far beyond their real significance."

I would point out that the results of Puig and Johnson, however determined by luck, have had real impacts: They have influenced games and helped decide pennants. But James is right that streaks don't predict future performance. And predictive stats say Johnson's bad mojo likely won't continue in 2014. That's great news for the O's, not least of all because their record in one-run games mirrors Johnson's results in high-leverage situations: from 29–9 in 2012, the best in the modern era, to 17–30 through Sept. 23 of this season, second worst in MLB.

Puig's streak may have been short this year but it's undeniable that he had an impact on the Dodgers' 2013 playoff run, perhaps as the most important contributor behind Hanley Ramirez. I don't see Amanda Bynes' career stats ever reaching the postseason.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: World Series Game 2: Birds @ Beards, 5p

John Lackey (0-0, -.--) vs. Michael Wacha (0-0, -.--)

Going into this World Series, my hope was that the Cardinals would polish off the Sox. That way, I could at least say the Dodgers were beaten by a good team and the eventual champs. After last night's clusterfuck, it's clear that the Cards are AWFUL and we should have beaten them. I'm all pissed off again. So, now I just want the Sox to sweep so we can get into offseason moves sooner. BRING ON DAT HOT STOVE.

Then again, Wacha is starting for the Cards, so this just figures to drag on and on and on.

Why can't I have nice things?

Mariano Rivera, On Former Dodgers Closer Jonathan Broxton

Took me a while to find this one, but back in the September 23, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, a number of people close to Mariano Rivera gave quotes about the future Hall of Fame closer. And buried in there was a comment about our own Jonathan Broxton, after our disastrous 2009 NLCS loss to the Phillies:

Mike Borzello, Yankees bullpen catcher from 1996 to 2007: When I was with the Dodgers [in 2010] I asked Mariano to meet Jonathan Broxton. He was our closer and had had a rough postseason the year before. So we're shagging at Dodger Stadium, and Mariano comes running over, and they start talking about Matt Stairs. Broxton had walked Stairs on four straight pitches [in the 2009 NLCS, against the Phillies]. Mariano immediately brings that up. He says, "Last year I was watching the game and there was nobody on and you walked him on four pitches." Broxton wound up giving up a double [three batters later] to Jimmy Rollins that ended the game.

Mo asks him, "How come you walked that guy?" Brox goes, "I don't know." And Mo goes, "No. You know. You walked him because he hit a homer off you the year before to win a game."

Brox goes, "Yeah." And Mariano says, "One thing you have to do as a closer is if a guy beats you the day before, he has to be the guy you want to face the next day. It's, O.K., you got me, but let's go again."

That shows how Mariano is. Mariano really believes that. He's not afraid. He always believes, You got me that time, but I'll get you the next.

For what it's worth, I think Kenley Jansen definitely has more of that confidence than Broxton does, making him a far more suitable closer. But hearing Rivera's approach, and the fact that he took time out to teach others about that approach, is pretty cool.

photo: Getty Images

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: Arrogant vs. Conceited (World Series Game 1), 4.30p

I'll let you figure out which is which.

Adam Wainwright (19-9. 2.94) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75).

"Our thoughts are now focused on bringing the world championship to Los Angeles in 2014"

On the back page of today's LA Times sports section:

LAT's Hernandez Covers Mattingly, But Zings Colletti

I was cracking up reading Dylan Hernandez' recap of the awkward Don Mattingly press conference earlier this week, not so much because he laid out the stakes that Mattingly had put forth, but also because he summed up Ned Colletti's appearance at the conference quite cleanly:

In the division series, Mattingly had to field a question about whether his uncertain job status factored into him starting Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest. In light of the revelation Monday about why Mattingly’s option vested, the questioned turned out to be a very valid one. But rather than offer Mattingly any public assurances, team President Stan Kasten called the inquiring reporter something that can’t printed in a family newspaper.

All of this could have been avoided had Kasten budged from his stance of refusing to comment on Mattingly's situation.

Kasten operated under the mistaken assumption that if he didn't address it, it wouldn't be written or talked about. The tactic might have worked in smaller cities in which Kasten previously ran teams but backfired spectacularly in America's second-largest media market.

Not wanting to cause any distractions for his team, Mattingly played along with Kasten during the season, according to a person familiar with the manager's thinking. But Mattingly became upset in the days that followed the Dodgers' elimination, as no one reached out to him to address his or his coaching staff's future.

Kasten usually loves talking in front of television cameras but conveniently excused himself from the Monday news conference. Later, he declined an additional opportunity to defend his handling of the matter. As such, Colletti was left in the uncomfortable position of answering questions on his behalf.

Colletti wants Mattingly back and it makes sense he would. Mattingly's departure would place him next in line to be fired. But Colletti also couldn't back Mattingly completely, as doing so would amount to him questioning Kasten's policies.

Colletti drew on the political savvy that helped him survive for eight seasons, simultaneously walking a tightrope and tap-dancing around land mines.

Colletti first complimented Mattingly, reminding everyone he hired Mattingly and saying he thought Mattingly has demonstrated he is capable of managing in the majors.

But asked if he understood Mattingly's concerns about being a lame duck, Colletti offered this non-answer: "It's a personal taste. There's a lot of guys that have won on one-year contracts — not one-year contracts, but the end of a contract. There's people that have won the World Series in that situation and there's people that haven't. There's people that have had three-year contracts and didn't survive the first two weeks of it."

Colletti then resorted to the ever-popular blame-the-media gambit.

"Certainly in the month of May, a lot of people that do what you do for a living had it all figured out, down to the very day it was going to happen," Colletti said. "It never happened. It's like when you hear the world's going to end, you know? That's the same type of deal. The world's still here and we're still here."

Basically, Colletti had nothing substantive to say.

And there you have it. This is more awkward than having my drunk uncle's inappropriate comments at the Christmas dinner table (followed by more unsubstantive conversation, in kind). Good times!

image swiped from here

Giants Spend Crazy Cash On Lincecum

Backed into a corner with no one to replace the franchise's face, the San Francisco Giants re-signed Tim Lincecum to another two-year deal, this one only $5M less than the last two-year deal they had back when they thought Lincecum was kinda good:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum is staying put with the San Francisco Giants just as he hoped, reaching agreement Tuesday on a $35 million, two-year contract through the 2015 season.

The deal is pending a physical, which had yet to be scheduled. Lincecum has a full no-trade clause in the new deal.

General manager Brian Sabean said when the season ended that among his top priorities was bringing back the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who also indicated he cherishes familiarity and wanted stay with the only club he has known. He pitched the Game 5 clincher in the 2010 World Series at Texas, then shifted to the bullpen and became a reliable reliever during the Giants' 2012 run to their second title in three years. He pitched a no-hitter July 13 at San Diego.

Sabean wanted to lock up Lincecum's deal before he hit the open market in free agency.

The 29-year-old Lincecum just completed a $40.5 million, two-year contract that paid him $22 million this past season.

So how is this going down with the pundits? Here's's Dan Szymborski, panning the deal:

The San Francisco Giants announced a scientific breakthrough this afternoon, demonstrating the ability to travel forward in time and return to the present, thus fulfilling the dreams of H.G. Wells. Or at least, I think they did, given that this afternoon they re-signed former ace Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract, a transaction that only makes sense if black-and-orange clad physicists crunched some equations and managed to bring back tales of a future in which The Freak returned to prime form.

Lincecum has been a nearly unmitigated disaster for the past two years, going 20-29 with a 4.76 ERA in 383 2/3 innings. A 4.76 ERA in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park in 2013 isn't like a 4.76 ERA in Yankee Stadium in 2001, and when you adjust for context, Lincecum's ERA+ numbers in 2012 and 2013 are 68 and 76, respectively.

How bad are those numbers? Lincecum was 88th of 88 MLB qualifiers in 2012 before improving to 77th of 81 in 2013. Baseball Reference's WAR (wins above replacement) has him as minus-2.3 over the past two years and the FanGraphs version of WAR, which uses FIP as a basis for pitcher WAR, putting Lincecum in the best possible light, has him at a combined 2.5 WAR across 2012 and 2013. [...]

Between Lincecum's new deal and the Hunter Pence contract announced a few weeks ago, the Giants have already committed $125 million in guaranteed future salary without actually making any improvements on a 76-86 team that finished two games out of last place. Unless the team shows a bit more creativity this offseason, there's a real danger that the Giants catch up to the Dodgers in payroll long before they catch up in wins.

Wow, that's pretty harsh. How about Grant Bisbee over at McCovey Chronicles...who hates the deal as well:

At the risk of being a contrarian, allow me to suggest the Giants just committed an awful lot of money to a pitcher who hasn't been very good over the last two years.

Oh, that's what everyone's been saying? Well, then put me down for some consensus pie. Because the Giants just committed an awful lot of money to a pitcher who hasn't been very good over the last two years. And it's hard to fathom, at least at first. Let's dig into some historical analogies.

Todd Wellemeyer was one of the worst Giants pitchers I've seen. His ERA+ was 69 in 2010, and if the Giants stuck with him for two or three more starts, there's a chance they don't win the division.

Pretend Wellemeyer came back the following season and posted a slightly better, still awful, ERA+ of 76.

Then pretend the Giants inked him to a two-year, $8 million deal.

You would have freaked out. Pun half-heartedly intended. But you would have been upset. That much? For that guy? And what's the deal with two years? Shouldn't he have to battle for a rotation spot? Wait, is he even close to being worth a rotation spot?

Now add $27 million to that total deal. For Todd Wellemeyer. You would have heard the news, opened your door, and started walking the Earth, like Caine in Kung Fu. You would have walked from place to place, met people, got in adventures. But your brain wouldn't have let you process anything to do with baseball. No, no, no, that would have been too much.

Well it may have been too much, indeed. For us Dodgers fans, though, I'm fine facing Lincecum as a Giant for two more years. And even more fine knowing it was expensive keeping him there.

Halloween Decoration, or How Dodger Fans Feel?

Thanks to Scott Killeen for the link!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Guard Changing Rapidly, Donnie Next?

From this morning:
Dodgers fire bench coach Trey Hillman (LAT)

From last night:
Sue Falsone will not return as Dodgers' head trainer (LAT)

The story is developing at faster-than-Twitter-can-keep-up-with speed, but all signs are pointing to Don Mattingly exiting. Stay tuned!

Kemp On The Mend (Again)

Not sure why we've lost a couple weeks here, but I'm excited that Matt Kemp finally got surgery on that pesky left ankle of his, which kept him out of the 2013 playoffs altogether:

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp underwent surgery on his left ankle Monday, the team announced. Kemp already was coming off a procedure on his left shoulder earlier this month, and his availability for spring training is in doubt.

Kemp injured his ankle with an awkward slide into home plate July 21. He returned in mid-September, but Dodgers orthopedist Neal ElAttrache declared Kemp out for the postseason on the final day of the regular season.

ElAttrache said there was significant swelling to the bone and that Kemp could jeopardize his career if he continued to play on it.

Kemp flew to North Carolina for the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson. It involved removing several spurs and a loose body, and doing a microfracture on the talus bone, the team said. Kemp will be in a splint for two weeks and a non-weight bearing boot for another two weeks. The Dodgers are hopeful he will be healthy in time for the regular season.

There's a reason why we waited until now to do this surgery, right? And Kemp will be ready for spring training? Pretty please?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mattingly Increases Heat On Dodgers

"I am not a happy man right now."

Don Mattingly is apparently not too happy with his $1.4M option extension. Which may be understandable, to be fair. But what's curious is, he's talking about his concerns publicly:

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced Monday that his 2014 contract option vested with a first-round playoff victory over the Atlanta Braves but that he remains unsure of whether he'll be back with the team next season.

Mattingly said he felt the organization put him in a difficult position in the Dodgers' clubhouse by making him manage this past season in the final year of his contract.

"When you're put in this situation, the organization basically says, 'We don't know if you can manage or not,'" Mattingly said. "So, that's the position I've been in all season long, so that's not a great position for me as a manager. That's the way it is, that's the way the organization wanted it last year, that's fine."

Mattingly's option, reportedly worth $1.4 million, would put him in line to return, but the team has made no announcement about his future. A team source indicated last week that Mattingly would return, but after Mattingly's comments, that might not happen unless the sides can work out a multiyear deal.

Well I guess that series win over the Braves was pretty critical after all, from Mattingly's perspective. I don't want an angry Donnie lurking around the Dodgers, and at this stage I'm also not warm to a toothpick-chewing, Russ-Ortiz-game-ball-giving-too-early alternative. So let's hope this all gets resolved so people can focus on more pressing issues.

Like signing Clayton Kershaw.

(By the way, make sure to click the above link to watch the ESPN video of the press conference, which includes Ned Colletti, seated beside Mattingly, doing his impression of Grumpy Cat.)

UPDATE 8:11p: Apparently, with 55K votes in, 46% of ESPN fans think Mattingly should get a multi-year deal, while 36% of fans think he should manage in his one-year option. There's another contingent of almost 20% who think the Dodgers should get a new manager altogether.

photo swiped from here

Dodgers Sign Guerrero? Finally? Maybe?

Take it away, Jesse Sanchez!

This has been reported and debunked about a thousand times over the last couple months, so let's wait and see. If true, the Dodgers have wasted little time filling the hole at second base, negating the need to pick up Mellis' $5.75 mil option.

UPDATE 3:25p (Sax): CBS Sports echoes the deal terms, and linked to a scouting report:

Guerrero, 26, defected to the Dominican Republic earlier this year. Here is a snippet of a scouting report from Baseball America's Ben Badler:

Guerrero's best tool is his righthanded power ... Guerrero takes an uppercut stroke and he loses his balance against breaking pitches. It's a pull-oriented, swing-for-the-fences approach that scouts think he will have to change to hit quality pitching.

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Guerrero has shown improved speed with above-average times in the 60-yard dash, which is highly unusual for a 26-year-old to start running faster ... [Some] scouts think he can stay in the middle of the infield, although shortstop is probably out of the question. His hands and actions are playable but he doesn't have the first-step quickness or range to play shortstop and he can be a bit stiff in the field. Second base could be an option for him and a team that likes him a lot will probably play him there.

ESPN has the story as well. This effectively knocks us out of the Robinson Cano chase, right?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kershaw, Mattingly Both Discussing Contracts

Unnamed sources with the Dodgers are pretty busy lately. First and most importantly, the Dodgers are finally trying to wrap up the Clayton Kershaw long-term deal:

The Los Angeles Dodgers offered left-hander Clayton Kershaw essentially a lifetime contract in the range of $300 million -- "an A-Rod deal" -- earlier this season, according to a source with knowledge of its scope and structure.

The two sides were unable to finish negotiations, sources say, because Kershaw was initially uncertain about committing to a deal so encompassing, and about having contract talks during the season.

But the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal -- perhaps more conservative in length than the massive contract initially proposed by the Dodgers -- will be concluded this winter, with a significant portion of money being devoted to a charity of Kershaw's choosing.

Alex Rodriguez's current contract with the New York Yankees is the largest in baseball, a 10-year, $275 million deal that could reach $305 million if he achieves all of its incentives.

Kershaw's potential contract is expected to be the largest ever for a pitcher.

I'm all for the Kershaw long-term deal; I'm just sorry that he has to be mentioned in the same breath as A-Fraud.

Meanwhile, unnamed sources (which may or may not be the same as the aforementioned unnamed sources) have Don Mattingly's contract extended for at least the 2014 season:

ST. LOUIS -- The Los Angeles Dodgers did not announce the fate of manager Don Mattingly following Friday's season-ending, 9-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, but a club source affirmed that Mattingly will be back for at least one more season.

Dodgers president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti said they will meet with Mattingly in the next few days to try to iron something out.

The Dodgers have a 2014 option on Mattingly's contract that would need to be picked up at some point in November, but it's believed they've also talked to his agent about a multiyear extension.

Not sure how I feel about this given the number of times I found Mattingly's managerial decisions crazy (most recently of which was NLDS Game 4, using Ronald Belisario to "preserve" a tightrope game and short-rest start by Kershaw--which luckily worked out in the end). But I suppose Donnie Baseball deserves credit for the 42-8 run and the team's Lazarus-like advancement to the playoffs (the first time in Mattingly's tenure). Let's shoot for 45-5 next year, coach!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

6.7 on Richter Scale; Tsunami Warning on East Coast

Charley Steiner Moving to TV?

Steiner pictured at right

Props to Eric Stephen over at TBLA for this catch (no props to Simers from me, though, whom Eric references):
The Dodgers' broadcasting situation for 2014 is starting to become a bit more clear. They will have a new network in SportsNet LA, and when Vin Scully stays home for road games east of Arizona Charley Steiner will shift over from radio to television play-by-play...
I actually wouldn't mind Steiner in this role given that most of my trouble with him lies in the fact that it takes him seemingly half an inning to understand and report what happened in a given play. On TV, where we have the visual, we don't have to actually rely on him for that as we do on the radio.

Photo: Steve Neimand

Friday, October 18, 2013

Post-NLCS Game 6 Thread: Now We're Dead


Well, the hated Cards (and their self-righteous, self-declared best fans in baseball) got the best of us this series. After a season whereby the Dodgers started with huge promise, dropped to last place, Magically rose from the ashes to go on a 42-8 run, and eventually won the division, the bats just couldn't wake up, the pitching inextricably failed, Puig spaced out, and the Cards ripped our heart out and left us for dead. Blue blood stains the streets of LA.

All props to Cards pitcher Michael Wacha. He was brilliant in this series and, rookie or no, got his shit done when called upon. Although the Dodgers were hampered by late injuries - a fair excuse - the Cards in the end did what they do best: find a way to win post-season games. Clayton Kershaw experienced a Freaky Friday moment and changed places with 2012 Carlos Marmol closing for the Cubs. Kid K was Kid ball-in-dirt and just never had it for whatever reason. He's gotta be the loneliest man on the planet tonight. Or maybe Puig is. His "fielding" was like watching outtakes from Bad News Bears III. Serious work to be done with him in the offseason. At this point, and I know some will yell and disagree, Puig may need some time at AAA to start the season not just to work on fundamentals but to be shown the game is much bigger than he is.

This season began in LA with a Kershaw home run of all things to give us an Opening Day win. It is indeed bittersweet to see the last game of the season be almost, but not entirely, Clay's fault. It's toug to swallow, and you have to feel for him.

It's been a roller-coaster season, to be sure. But there were bright spots and there will be bright spots next year as the new(ish) ownership continues to take this team in the right direction. We'll come back better, meaner, and more experienced.

As SoSG Nomo-san well put it:

Drink up in the SoSG pub, ladies and gentlemen. Rounds are on us. Thanks for another great season in this blog space! Don't miss us in the offseason.

NLCS Game 6 Thread: Oct. 18 @ Cards, 5:30p

Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 0.00) vs. Michael Wacha (1-0, 0.00)

So...what's left to say? Zack Greinke and the suddenly-powerful bats bought us one more game. We know Kershaw's ready. We know Ethier's...something. If the bats from Game 5 made the trip to St. Louis, then maybe we can keep this crazy show running.

There is the little matter of this:

Then again, it's been pretty clear from the last two games that Hanley just can't go. If he saves all of his mojo for one key AB, that might be the best use for him now.

Clench your butts, grab your drinks, and enjoy your anxiety, everyone, because...

Andre the Pimp

Dodgers Star to Craig Sager: I See Your Ugly Suit ... AND RAISE YOU (thanks to Meaniebreanie!)

Game Face

If you all are as nervous as I am - confident, but nonetheless nervous - you need an outlet. Please use this space as a place to get out that nervousness and likely aggressiveness. Have a drink here or burn a mattress. Get it out of your system. We'll need our collective focus later tonight.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scoreboard Watching: ALCS Game 5 (Oct. 17, 2013) 5p

Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (0-1, 1.42 ERA)

With the Boys in Blue on a travel day to St. Louis, we do have one playoff game to track today. Red Sox look to rebound from their ass-whuppin' yesterday in what figures to be another great pitching matchup. Series is 2-2 now, so this is a crucial game before the series moves back to Boston.

Let's enjoy this game before the pressure mounts tomorrow in another do-or-die for the Dodgers.

We Got This

Enough said. Go get 'em, Clay.

Photo: @Dodgers

Nomo Chips In

I'm not that big on superstitions. At least, not as big on them as Sax is. Sure, some things like a particular shirt, or putting a hat on at the right time, or making sure the GT is phrased the right way SEEM like they have an impact, but not really.

Tomorrow, however, I'm going to go out of my way to eat a bag of these chips:

Blogger Night 2013 was Clayton Kershaw's final start of the year. To that point, the team had been struggling to provide him with run support. In the suite that evening, these chips were served to us, alongside plentiful Dodger Dogs. I helped myself to a bag (or two...or three). Kershaw got 11 runs of support.

Fast forward to NLDS Game 1. The morning of the game, I looked in my backpack and noticed the bag of Tim's chips that I had smuggled out of the suite that night. Not really thinking anything of it, I ate them. Later that day, Kershaw got 6 runs of support in a Game 1 victory.

The days of Kershaw's next two starts, NLDS Game 4 and NLCS Game 2, I did not eat any of the chips. It worked out OK for NLDS Game 4, since Kersh was bailed out by Juan Uribe (who also knows a thing or two about eating chips). NLCS Game 2, on the other hand, was a disaster. (I will also be avoiding Disneyland this weekend, where I was during Game 2.)

Now, maybe it won't work since they won't be Dodger Stadium chips, but I have to try SOMETHING, right?

This is what happens when I write posts at lunch time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Post-NLCS Game 5 Thread: Not Dead Yet


The Dodgers batboys finally tapped into the secret vault of Dodgers humidor-controlled bats today, as the Dodgers--homerless in the first four games of this series--opened up the whupping sticks with four shots today, two off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, coupled with four-baggers from A.J. Ellis and Carl Crawford. All four of these shots came with no one on base, which was the bummer. But these home runs, over the course of six innings, turned a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 lead.

The Dodgers ended up needing this insurance gap as the Cardinals scored two in the ninth to add some worry, but Kenley Jansen got Adron Chambers looking to seal the victory and send the series back to St. Louis.

Zack Greinke was awesome today. After loading the bases in the first inning, Greinke emerged unscathed thanks to a nice Juan Uribe-led GIDP, and then Greinke looked pretty sharp from there on save the third inning, when Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday strung consecutive XBH to let the Cardinals tie the game. Greinke went seven full innings, striking out four and allowing only one walk. And, Greinke added a RBI single of his own. Not a bad day for the Dodgers.

Let's hope the equipment manager packs these same bats on the flight to St. Louis. Dodgers have to win them both. But after today's outburst, there's much more confidence that we can do it. Let's take those bats to the Cards, in all the ways we can.

NLCS Game 5 Thread: Oct. 16 vs. Cards, 1p

Left to Right: Nick Punto, Mark Ellis, AJ Ellis;
Foreground: Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

Indeed, it's do or die today. Win or go home. Well, I guess the team already is at home. So, it's win or don't go back to St. Louis. Which most other situations would be a clear choice.

We have to get 'em today, boys and girls. SoSG faithful snarker PaulJ is at the Yard trying to bring some good mojo with his playoff beard. Let's channel the Blue to him.

Oh, and if we're going to lose, let's at least stick Kelly in the ribs just so we'll have a little something to enjoy for the off season.

image: Maverick Entertainment

Please Throw At Joe Kelly Tonight

Hanley Ramirez' fractured rib is unfortunately going to be the fulcrum for this series, the turning point for the Dodgers' storybook 2013 season. We could survive injuries to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and even Ted Lilly (just wanted to see if you were awake there!), but Ramirez' loss is just too great. And though I credit Ramirez for sacking up in NLCS Game 3, watching him wince in Game 4 made me hugry for vengeance:

Ramirez said team trainers were trying to remove him from Game 4 in the early innings but he insisted on remaining in the game.

"I was like, 'No, I gotta stay in, I gotta stay in,'" he said. "But I got to a point where I just had to go and come in [to the clubhouse] to get treatment." Clearly not himself at the plate, the slugging shortstop struck out three times.

There is nothing the team can do for the injury, Ramirez said, except manage the pain with steam, ice, ultrasound equipment and acupuncture. He said leaving the game was not an easy decision for him.

"We were back in the game with men on base, and it looked like we would tie it," Ramirez said. "But they took me out early so I could get treatment and try to come back tomorrow."

The Dodgers are a different team without Ramirez in their lineup, and losing him has been a devastating blow to their offense. Ramirez's 1.040 OPS led the NL this season and was good enough for the second-highest mark in baseball behind Miguel Cabrera (1.078). He pounded out six extra-base hits in the NL Division Series, which tied a Dodgers franchise record for a postseason series.

The 29-year-old battled a multitude of injuries this season and played in only 86 games. He hit .345 and still finished second on the Dodgers in home runs with 20.

Asked how frustrated he is that this injury might sideline him for the team's most important game of the season Wednesday, Ramirez shook his head and sighed.

"It took a lot of work to get where we are right now, and to just have this one thing [being hit by the pitch]," he said. "It makes me very angry.

"[Wednesday] I'm gonna come back and expect to see my name in the lineup, but it's gonna be hard," he said. "It's gonna be hard. I'm gonna try to play. I'm gonna go back to my house and get some rest and try to be ready to go."


At-Game Recap: NLCS Game 4 / Before The Disappointment

AC sent these pictures over from the game last night. The first two look fine enough but given the third one, it was destined that there was going to be heartburn at the Stadium, one way or another.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Went To The NLCS And All I Got Was This Rag

I should have realized that this was going to be a long day when the rally towels they handed out at the door were blank. Thanks for the blue rag Dodgers. 

Post-NLCS Game 4 Thread: The Nutshot Strikes Back


Ricky Nolasco rolled through his first inning of work with six pitches. His next inning allowed a baserunner but then he got out of it.

But in the third inning, the things came off the rails, capped by a two-run shot deep to left off the bat of Matt Holliday, 2009 Dodgers NLCS hero. After years of doing NOTHING in Dodger Stadium, off of Ricky Nolasco, Holliday finally got lucky.

Holliday's HR proved to be the difference in a game where the Dodgers just couldn't get anything started at the plate. Juan Uribe was swinging early but not often; his 0-for-4 tonight has him batting .118. Hanley Ramirez looked pained with each swing in his 0-for-3 night, and you can hardly blame the guy with a fractured rib. Yasiel Puig kept it rolling: 2-for-3 with an RBI, but a key GIDP in the ninth inning to erase Andre Ethier's leadoff single, the Dodgers' last chance for a comeback.

Like all the other games in this series, the Dodgers outhit their opponent (8 to 6), but lost. And our RISP was mediocre (2-for-6), but St. Louis' was worse (2-for-10). And yet, the Cardinals won and took a 3-1 lead in the NLCS.

Disgusting and sad outcome this evening, but take some solace: the Cardinals were up 3-1 in the NLCS on an NL West team last year, as well. And we all know how that one turned out.

image swiped from here

NLCS Game 4 Thread: Oct. 15 vs. Cards, 5p

Ricky Nolasco (0-0, -.--) vs. Lance Lynn (1-0, 0.00)

Well, Ricky, after you lost that number, you finally get the call. You probably have a lot on your mind right now. Your first playoff game ever. It's in front of your hometown crowd. It's a pivotal Game 4. You haven't pitched since the first Bush was in office. No pressure!

The team is loose and energized. Hanley and Ethier are back in the lineup again. Let's get this one tonight and hand Greinke a 2-2 series tomorrow!

We just couldn't bear it if you lost.

Dodgers tickets

Photo: Getty Images.

Banned for Six Months

It Was 25 Years Ago Today

Post-NLCS Game 3 Thread: Dodgers Bear Injuries, Find Ryu of Sunshine

And this was only the second or third weirdest thing that happened last night.


We knew this was a must-win game, but it also needed to be a must-enjoy game. After a 13-inning slog and a feeble shutout, the Dodgers desperately needed a shot of life, and man, did they get it.

First up, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu struggled mightily in his lone NLDS start (something he chalked up to nerves, not injuries), so it was hard to predict what we'd get out of him. Turns out, we got seven innings of 3-hit, 4 K, shutout ball. We'll take it, and then some!

Again, though, the pitching has not been the problem this series. Coming into the game, the Dodgers had gone 19 innings without scoring a run. The streak extended to 22, when Adam WhineWainwright looked to be his typical self after three. Then, in the fourth, Mark Ellis doubled to lead off the inning. Mattingly resisted bunting with Hanley at the plate, but a flyout did move Ellis over to third. Finally, Adrian Gonzalez ripped a double to right, scoring Ellis and ending the drought. Adrian celebrated at second base, irritating Wainwright and the best fans in baseball.

GIF by Chad Moriyama

Speaking of celebrations, two batters later, Yasiel Puig became the first player in recent memory to pimp a home run and celebrate a triple in the same at bat. Puig's long drive to right missed being a home run into the right field seats by only about five inches to the left. When he realized it wasn't going out, he switched on the gas and made it to third without a throw. (AGon scored.)

That seemed like it would be enough for how Ryu was pitching, but they added one more in the eighth when the ailing, but still willing Hanley Ramirez deposited a dunker past second, scoring Carl Crawford (channeling Puig-like speed) from second. (Andre Ethier also gutted out his injury, but went 0-4.)

Brian Wilson nailed down the eighth, Kenley Jansen closed up shop, and the Dodgers found themselves right back in it, alive and kicking.

And oh yeah, that bear. Like I said, it was only the second or third weirdest thing that happened last night, and that was because A.J. Ellis hit a triple.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gearing Up For Game 3 At The Stadium

No, not from me...from a SoSG roving reporter!

NLCS Game 3 Thread: Oct. 14 vs. Cards, 5p

I have the strangest feeling we've been through this exact same thing before.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-0, 0.00) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-0, 0.00)

Steve McCroskey: Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that's happened up till now.

Jacobs: Well, let's see. First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes. And then the Dodgers lost two straight 1-run NLCS games started by Cy Young winners. I couldn't believe it.

Well, here we are. The Dodgers are hurtling into the sun, and only Hyun-Jin Ryu can save us.

Hope you brought your hitting shoes, Ryu, since pitching hasn't been the problem. We know now that Hanley Ramirez suffered a hairline rib fracture on that Game 1 pitch from Joe Kelly. (THANKS, JOE!) Somehow, Hanley is still a "game time decision". Yasiel Puig has been MIA. Andre Ethier is still working out a wobbly ankle. And Adrian Gonzalez can't get any pitches to hit without any lineup protection.

Maybe, just maybe, a raucous L.A. crowd will infuse some life into this team and they can pull out a win. I hope so, because I'm not ready to be over Macho Grande.

UPDATE (2:32pm): Hanley is playing tonight.

Dodgers tickets*

*Suddenly VERY cheap. I wonder why.

Postseason Margins Can Be Slim

Stay Classy, Red Sox Fan

From "Angry Red Sox fan thrown out for HR ball toss also allegedly ranted racist remarks" by Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports:

BOSTON – The fan who ripped a home run ball out of a woman's hands and threw it back onto the field allegedly spent Game 2 of the American League Championship Series uttering racist remarks, including a parting shot to an African-American man as he was ejected from Fenway Park: "Bye, Trayvon."

The man was not immediately identified, and stadium security declined to provide his name. But fans in Section 42 of the stadium confirmed that he directed multiple slurs at 25-year-old Angelo Sikoutris, a Detroit Tigers fan from Brooklyn, including a reference to Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager whose shooting death sparked a national firestorm and prompted fierce debate about modern-day racism. [...]

Sikoutris, who attended the game with his father, wore a Prince Fielder jersey, which prompted the man to allegedly call him "Prince Fielder's crackhead brother." In addition, Sikoutris said, the man yelled at another African-American Tigers fan 8:walking through the section, saying: "Go back to the ghetto."

Another fan near the altercation, Dan Cook, confirmed Sikourtis' account, as did a woman who declined to provide her name.

Security led the man and a woman, who fans said attended the game with him in Row 5 of Section 42, out through the stadium's Gate C. On the way out, Sikoutris, who fans said had been level-headed dealing with the man, said: "Bye-bye."

The response from the man: "Bye, Trayvon."